Human remains found in Wyoming have been confirmed as those of Gabby Petito, and the 22-year-old's death was ruled a homicide, the FBI says.
"Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue confirmed the remains are those of Gabrielle Venora Petito, date of birth March 19, 1999," the FBI Denver division said in a statement. "Coroner Blue's initial determination for the manner of death is homicide."
During the search for the missing Petito, who went on a cross-country trip with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, a body was found matching her description on September 19. Even Petito's family believed that it was her body. An attorney for the Petito family released a statement on Sunday evening asking for privacy to grieve and also thanking the agencies that assisted in the search.
Final Autopsy Results Are Yet to Come
An autopsy performed September 21, has now confirmed that the human remains found belonged to the 22-year-old Long Island native. The official cause of death will remain pending until final autopsy results are in, according to the FBI.
Massive Manhunt for Brian Laundrie
The announcement immediately heightened expectations that police or the FBI may now announce charges. Petito's boyfriend Laundrie, currently being searched for by police in Florida, has been described as a "person of interest". Law enforcement searched his home for eight hours on Monday, questioning his parents and collecting evidence that could tell them what happened to Petito. According to CBS News, an attorney for Laundrie's family issued a brief statement Tuesday in response to the news: "May Gabby rest in peace."
FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider said on Tuesday that the agency was determined to ensure anyone "responsible for, or complicit in her death" would he "held accountable" for their actions.
Condolences From All Sides
Petito family's lawyer Richard Stafford reportedly confirmed that an autopsy revealed that the body found on Sunday was Petito's in a text message.
Earlier on Tuesday, Stafford thanked reporters "for giving the Petito and Schmidt family time to grieve." "I want to personally thank the press and news media for giving the Petito and Schmidt family time to grieve. We will be making a statement when Gabby is home. I will contact you to arrange a time and location," he said.
The story of the search for Petito had gripped the nation, and dominated much media coverage. Meanwhile, Twitter is full of condolences and many users are demanding the justice for Petito.
One user wrote, "My deepest condolences to the family. I hope they get justice. I thought this would be the outcome, but I was also hoping for a miracle." Another wrote, "Sad bro. I was praying this young pretty vibrant adventurous lady was found safe. I hope the boyfriend get charged quickly."